$12 General Admission
With only three films to her name, Argentine director Lucrecia Martel established herself in the first decade of the 21st century as one of the most distinctive voices in world cinema. Her films have seamlessly melded a precise, boldly sensation-driven aesthetic style with intensely psychological narratives, delving deep into fractured mindsets that deteriorate as the movie progresses, in turn commenting on the larger societies in which they are placed.
After a decade-long absence from world cinema following 2008’s acclaimed The Headless Woman, Martel has returned with the mesmerizing Zama. It marks a number of firsts in her filmography: the first film set in the past and the first adaptation of a literary source – in this case the legendary 1956 novel by Antonio di Benedetto. However, this is clearly Martel’s voice, externalizing its portrayal of imperialism suffocating in a strange, unknown land through off-kilter compositions, dense sound design, and above all an atmosphere of frustration and ambiguities. The film centers squarely upon Don Diego de Zama, a Spanish magistrate effectively stranded in an 18th century South American colony. His physical and mental state only worsens as he experiences a series of bureaucratic and sexual frustrations and his attempts to return to his home country are continually rebuffed. An overpowering, tactile experience, it dives deep into the world of the inexplicable, and in doing so lays bare a whole history of misuses of power.
Description courtesy of Ryan Swen
“Zama oozes disorientation. It traps Don Diego in his own hallucination, where nothing is fixed except his sweaty desire to escape … Zama is gorgeous, sneakily funny, and amazing to hear, with its soundtrack of buzzing insects and screeching birds.” – Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly